卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief
Better evidence needed on appropriate screen time for children

briefing paper published by the British Psychological Society states that much of the evidence for the negative effects of screen use in children and teenagers is not based on robust enough science.

The report recognises that the issue of children’s digital media use is more complex than just screen time and calls for new guidelines to be built on robust evidence. To do this, it offers a number of recommendations for government officials, policy makers and practitioners interested in the impact of social media and digital technology on children and young people’s mental health.

Recommendations for research include:

  • Studies should be designed which can identify causality and increase our understanding of when screen use is harmful and when it is beneficial.
  • More qualitative methods, such as interviews, ethnography and participatory research should be employed with young people to understand their media practices and what they want from digital media.

It also offers guidance for families on how to reduce the negative impact that technology can have on some young people’s mental health, which include:

  • Discuss the different aspects of digital media with children and encourage positive media use.
  • Minimise screen use before bed time.
  • Encourage children to engage in a variety of activities away from screens.

 

Galpin, A. & Taylor, G. (2018). Changing behavior: children, adolescents and screen use. Leicester, England: The British Psychological Society.… Read the rest

Effective reading programmes for secondary pupils

Ariane Baye from the University of Liege and Cynthia Lake, Amanda Inns and Robert Slavin from the Center for Research and Reform in Education have completed an update to their report on effective secondary reading programmes. The paper, A Synthesis of Quantitative Research on Reading Programs for Secondary Studentsfocuses on 69 studies that used random assignment (n=62) or high-quality quasi-experiments (n=7) to evaluate outcomes of 51 programmes on widely accepted measures of reading.

The authors found that:

  • Categories of programmes using one-to-one and small-group tutoring, cooperative learning, whole-school approaches including organisational reforms such as teacher teams, and writing-focused approaches showed positive outcomes.
  • Individual approaches in a few other categories also showed positive impacts. These approaches included programmes emphasising humanities/science, structured strategies and personalised and group/personalisation rotation approaches for struggling readers.
  • Programmes that provide a daily extra period of reading and those utilising technology were no more effective, on average, than programmes that did not provide these resources.

The findings suggest that secondary readers benefit more from socially and cognitively engaging instruction than from additional reading periods or technology.

 

Baye, A., Lake, C., Inns, A. & Slavin, R. E. (2018). A synthesis of quantitative research on reading programs for secondary students. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University, Center for Research and Reform in Education.… Read the rest

Conversation more important than word exposure for literacy and language development

While it is common knowledge that talking to children helps them develop language and pre-literacy skills, new research from Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania shows that children gain greater language development and pre-literacy benefits the more that caregivers engage them in conversational turn-taking-like exchanges. In other words, talking with children is more beneficial than talking to children.

In the first study to link children’s language exposure to neural functioning:

  • Functional MRIs showed that children who experienced more frequent conversational turn-taking with caregivers while listening to stories demonstrated greater activity within the part of the brain in charge of language processing than children who didn’t interact in as many conversational exchanges.
  • These same children also scored higher than their counterparts on standardised language assessments measuring vocabulary, grammar, and verbal reasoning. This was true regardless of children’s socioeconomic status or parental education.

Audio recordings of 36 four- to six-year-olds from various socioeconomic backgrounds measured the number of words children said, the number of words they heard and the number of conversational exchanges in which they engaged for two days. All children were native English speakers who did not significantly differ by behaviour, language exposure, or neural measures on standardised tests. When these measures were compared to the brain scans, researchers found a positive correlation between conversational turns and brain physiology.

 

Romeo, R. R., Leonard, J. A., Robinson, S. T., West, M. R., Mackey, A. P., Rowe, M. L., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2018). Beyond the 30-Million-Word Gap: Children’s Conversational Exposure Is Associated with Language-Related Brain Function. Psychological Science. Advance online publication.… Read the rest

One in five pupils in the UK experience emotional and behavioural problems

Around one in five children and young people in the UK experience emotional and behavioural problems according to the first findings from a survey of over 30,000 young people (aged 11 to 14), which were collected as part the National Lottery-funded HeadStart programme.

Pupils in the 114 participating HeadStart schools were asked to complete the online Wellbeing Measurement Framework. This report, by Jessica Deighton and colleagues, explores the data related to the prevalence of mental health problems in young people and how this varies by gender, ethnicity, special educational needs status, free school meal eligibility, and child-in-need status. The findings reveal that:

  • Pupils in Year 9 are more likely to report mental health problems than those in Year 7.
  • Girls are more likely to say they had experienced emotional problems (with 25% of girls saying they had a problem compared to 11% of boys) but in contrast, boys are more likely to say they have experienced behavioural problems (with 23% of boys saying they had experienced them compared with 15% of girls).
  • Pupils from Asian, Black, Mixed, and other ethnic groups were less likely to indicate they were experiencing emotional problems than young people in the White ethnic group.
  • Pupils with special educational needs, those eligible for free school meals, and those classified as children in need were also more likely to say they were experiencing both emotional and behavioural problems.

The report concludes that there is a consistent association between deprivation and mental health problems, however, the schools involved in HeadStart are typically located in less socially and economically advantaged areas of the UK and differ from the national average in terms of proportions with special educational needs and proportions of white pupils, so all results must be understood in this context.

 

Deighton, J., Lereya, T., Patalay, P., Casey, P., Humphrey, N., & Wolpert, M. (2018). Mental health problems in young people, aged 11 to 14: Results from the first HeadStart annual survey of 30,000 children. London: CAMHS Press.… Read the rest

Social skills intervention programme shows small positive effects

Results from a study published in the Journal of Education Psychology suggest that a classroom social skills programme, The Social Skills Improvement System Classwide Intervention Program (SSIS-CIP), generally has small positive effects on social skills and approaches to learning.

James Clyde DiPerna and colleagues from the Pennsylvania State University evaluated the effects of SSIS-CIP on the social, behavioural and academic outcomes of Year 2 pupils from six primary schools in the mid-Atlantic region of the US. Classrooms were randomly assigned to either treatment or business-as-usual control groups. Teachers assigned to the treatment group implemented the SSIS-CIP over a 12-week period. Outcomes were assessed via teacher ratings and direct observations of classroom behaviour as well as computer-adaptive tests of reading and maths.

Results showed that:

  • SSIS-CIP has a small positive effect on social skills across all social skills subscales (effect sizes ranged from +0.13 to +0.31), with empathy and social engagement showing the largest positive effects (+0.31 and +0.21).
  • The direct observation measure, however, yielded the smallest effect size (+0.05).
  • Students in the treatment group also demonstrated positive effects on academic motivation and engagement (+0.17).
  • However, SSIS-CIP did not demonstrate any substantial effects for problem behaviours, with effect sizes across subscales ranging from +0.01 to +0.07.

Larger effects were also found among second-grade students. The authors suggest that if this pattern could be replicated in the future studies, educators should consider prioritizing second grade for implementation of the SSIS-CIP.

 

DiPerna, J. C., Lei, P., Cheng, W., Hart, S. C., & Bellinger, J. (2018). A cluster randomized trial of the Social Skills Improvement System-Classwide Intervention Program (SSIS-CIP) in first grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, 110(1), 1–16.… Read the rest